Wining On: Fun-due

Fondue at La Vinoteca. Drool.
It was quite the launch that autumn night in Chacarita two weeks ago. It was definitely popular, and although the food being served wasn’t national, no matter, it was the latest branch opening of Nac & Pop, that burger joint that makes its own buns and patties that has taken the city by storm. And it had punters queuing round the block, eager to snap up the two-for-one hotdog offer.

But let’s not dwell on yet another fast-food chain, with its bright lights winking coquettishly at us in a bid to lure us in and clog up our already-suffering arteries. I can see it from my front door, for God’s sake. And it’s seven blocks away. No, let’s look to other new food options to keep you eating at all times of day.

Broco’s Deli is, selfishly, ultra convenient for me, living on the cusp of Palermo Hollywood, but as a lunchtime-only gourmet kiosko, one of its USPs is that it also delivers. Perfect for busy worker bees with little time to leave the hive, Josefina Andrieu, who is keen for people who often succumb to empanadas or the “classic” ham and cheese roll for lunch to eat well, assures that produce is fresh every single day so that she can whip up veggie tarts, wraps, bagels, salads and sandwiches to order. Super soups include carrot ‘n coriander, and curried pumpkin. If that doesn’t warm your cockles in this pesky weather, I don’t know what will.

She also prepares a mean smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel. The soup and tart of the day combo costs a most reasonable 25 pesos, while soup and the wrap of the day is 30 pesos. Broco’s other USP is that you can order via Twitter.

At the other end of the scale is a charming new grill house in Las Cañitas serving up plate-size steaks worth skipping breakfast for. Using only premium cuts, all La Guadalupe’s big bouncing steaks are accompanied by diddly little side dishes such as marinated beans, creamed spinach, creamy mash or marinated aubergine. With a starter to share, there’s little need for much else — apart from the dreamiest passion fruit mousse this city has ever seen. Not too sweet (always a miracle in this sugar-coated city). Not too sharp. Leave room for it.

Although there is an obviously named restaurant serving up this cheesy speciality, you can also get fondue at La Rosadita in Palermo. But for a real splurge, head to La Vinoteca at the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt for its new winter menu, thoughtfully prepared by head chef Federico Heinzmann, and one of three cheese fondues, which does, of course, include a classic choccie one.

La Vinoteca is simply one of the most elegant dining spots in Buenos Aires, from the attention, to the setting to the food itself. And attached to it is one of my favourite places in the city, the Cheese Room. Like pheromones to a rampant teenager, a Cheddar works in the same way for me.

Now a whole lot of thought has gone into the Duhau’s fondues — clearly it isn‘t just about whacking a load of Dambo into a saucepan. Dip mini sausages and new potatoes into the Patagonian, made with smoked cheeses, gruyère and fontina with Pinot Noir from San Patricio del Chañar and elder jam, or the Classic, blending gruyère, fontina and raclette with Sauvignon Blanc wine from Mendoza. My personal fave had a northwest influence, encompassing fresh goat’s cheese, gruyère and gouda with Torrontés wine from Cafayate and fresh huacatay leaves, a unique flavour which really came through.

Delicious, totally fattening, and don’t even get me started on the chocolate one. Okay. Candied ginger, fresh fruit, marshmallows and nut biscotti stuck onto the end of your spear and slathered in warm, melted Bahía Superior Grand Cru and Rio Arriba Grand Cru. Sounds good, huh? Sounds amazing! A cheese fondue for two costs 180 pesos, the chocolate one 150 pesos.

Broco’s Deli
Carranza 1505, Palermo Hollywood
Tel: 4773-4641

La Guadalupe
Baez 358, Las Cañitas
Tel: 4773-8632

La Vinoteca, Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt
Alvear 1661, Recoleta
Tel: 5171-1340

Diary date: today (July 1) sees the second Annual Chili Cook-off kicking off from 2pm at Borges 1750, Palermo Soho. Although the chefs and judges have already been selected, those keen for a spicy lunchtime winter warmer can argue over who they think made the best of the 10 chilis on offer — funds raised go to the Send a Child to School – SACS charity.

Published in the Buenos Aires Herald on July 1, 2012
Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt

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